Consumers now hold the world's information in the palm of their hand, prompting analyst firms like BIA/Kelsey to estimate the U.S. mobile ad market at more than $10 billion this year, with location targeting contributing about 40%. Supporting this explosion, local search and advertising company YP appointed Allison Checchi to CMO, responsible for building the multibillion-dollar brand. Based in Glendale, Calif., she had a key role in the spinoff of YP from AT&T.
MediaPost caught up with Checchi to gain insight on her transition to CMO, views on the overall industry, and what's in store for YP during 2014.
SMD: What's the biggest challenge this year for CMOs, and what's the biggest mistake he or she can make addressing that challenge?
Checchi: I believe that one of the biggest challenges facing CMOs today is the proliferation of channels and avenues to reach and engage with customers. The pace of technological innovation not only enables new channels like social media, it also enables company employees to become more engaged and connected to customers, daily. CMOs must think about how to leverage all connection points in a way that tells a cohesive story, while being tailored appropriately for the channel or avenue and the audience for that channel, which might be a different customer segment entirely). So CMOs run the risk of either not taking advantage of these new avenues or doing so in a scattered way that has less impact.
SMD: How will you address the challenge?
Checchi: I intend to address this challenge by having a crisp brand and positioning strategy, a clear definition of our target consumer and advertiser segments, and an integrated marketing plan that involves all communication methods, from traditional advertising, digital and social advertising, product merchandising, sales training and activation, employee communications, PR, and more.
SMD: Why take on the role of CMO at YP, and what's your first order of business in the new position?
Checchi: Prior to YP, I was at Bain & Company advising media companies on their growth and digital strategies. As CMO at YP, I'm essentially doing the same but for local businesses, by helping them see the value in being found, being considered and engaging their customers through digital and offline channels. I'm very passionate about our customers and our mission to help local businesses succeed, so I'm excited to spearhead efforts that put our customers and their needs front and center in everything we do at YP.
My first order of business is reinstating and reinforcing the role of marketing within YP, and aligning the organization around the key priorities that will drive engaged, loyal users. I also want to create satisfied customers -- advocates for YP's advertising and marketing solutions.
SMD: How will the acquisition of Sense Networks play into your plans for growth this year?
Checchi: We are the second-largest mobile advertising company in the U.S., according to IDC, based on our strength in mobile search advertising. With the acquisition, YP now has a best-in-class platform to develop audience and location-targeted display products. By expanding our position in both mobile search and display, we strengthen our mobile advertising capabilities and products for national advertisers seeking local results. National advertisers make up a large and growing market and are part of YP's growth strategy.
SMD: What are your key performance indicators (KPIs) for the year in terms of accomplishing goals and objectives at YP?
Checchi: YP's Marketing KPIs focus on overall consumer and advertiser awareness of YP, user engagement metrics, new advertiser relationships and revenue delivered versus our plans. This will be a byproduct of delivering solutions that solve key pain points and deliver significant value for our local advertisers while doing right by our customers.
SMD: What new services can we expect from YP this year?
Checchi: We will continue to invest in both consumer and advertiser products and services in 2014 with a focus on helping consumers find, consider and engage with local businesses.
We introduced mybook in a major refresh of the YP.com and YP app properties last fall, and the feature will continue to evolve over the coming months. When fully deployed, mybook will allow YP consumers to save, organize, and share information about their favorite businesses in ways that help them better manage projects and their to-do lists. It's the ultimate tool for doers.
For our SMB advertisers, we have several new Web site and presence-management solutions slated to launch via e-commerce and our local sales force early this year. Simultaneously, we are piloting a few new solutions within our set of lead-gen products. We will be able to share more details later this year.
For National brands, our recent acquisition of Sense Networks will strengthen our mobile display offerings, which will complement our mobile search solutions.
Great to see YP add someone of Allison's calibre to the team. Love the vision she outlines here.
Congrats both to Allison for joining YP and to YP for getting her on the team. Will look for interesting things from YP in 2014.